Jan 24, 2013

Milking my opinions

I've found it rather hard to have opinions of late.

This dearth of loud-mouthed brashy-ness is due in part to a renewed focus on my work, as an arts/entertainment writer for brisbanetimes.com.au

It's a truly brilliant job. Truly. I burn a goat in sacrifice everyday just to thank the elder gods for this gift.

May Shub-Niggurath bless my journalistic endeavours
with his terrible, terrible wrath.

There's been a lot to learn, technicalities-wise, as I've made the switch from radio to online journalism. But the basic tenet of writing interesting stories that are factually correct remains the same, and so I've been focusing extra hard on doing that stuff well.

The one area of opinion-giving in my new role is review and criticism - and so far I've been mostly pleasant and positive. Mostly that's because the performances and concerts that I've seen have been enjoyable, and haven't justified an acidic, rapier-like dissection. But it's also because I want to make sure my rapier has been properly sharpened and acid-coated and I'm confident enough with my surgical skills before I go in for the cut.

You've got to be able to stand by your opinions.

But also, perhaps more importantly, you've got to be qualified to have them.

Let me give you a potentially controversial example.

The issue of mothers breastfeeding their babies in public jumped into the spotlight when a Bribie Island woman was asked to move while feeding her baby, and then blew into a full-on "storm in a D-cup" (ahh, that old chestnut. Or should that be chest nuts?) when Sunrise presenter David Koch threw in his two cents that you had to be "classy" about it.

Now Kochie really didn't help things, because frankly the "Hey, I'm just a regular Aussie bloke with an opinion!" card doesn't play well.

Moreover this issue is really a non-issue, because breastfeeding in public is absolutely protected by law, and I have absolutely no problem with mothers breastfeeding wherever and whenever they need to.

But I've got to confess ... I kinda don't like it.

Let me rephrase. I find it a bit intimidating. It's a bit... weird. Some may say I've just been brainwashed by Big Porn and only see breasts as sexual. But I know they have a biological role to play in the ongoing successful evolutionary experiment that is "the human race". I know it's natural, and beneficial, and healthy, and all those things. I'm a feminist, and I don't believe women should have to hide away for any reason.

But I've got to confess... breastfeeding still kinda freaks me out.

Now of course, this is entirely my problem. I realise that. This is entirely Natalie's squeamishness and ye olde prudishness.

I couldn't join in the social media barrage about how it's normal and beautiful because it's not how I feel. While, yes, I wanted to avoid the wrath of social media, I also felt as a person who has not had a child that it would be inappropriate for me to chime in. But most of all, breastfeeding is protected under the law. So really, what was the point of having an opinion? It's not like my opinion about breastfeeding counts in any way. It simply doesn't.

So I stayed quiet.

However, what often makes people interesting are their opinions, their particular take on things. Perhaps indeed some of you come here to examine my opinions (sorry about the breastfeeding thing).

So it worries me that I'm not really having a lot of opinions at the moment.

I seem to be deciding that if I'm not qualified to make a comment, or if my opinion has already been repeated often, then there's really no need to express what I think.

But it's becoming harder to sustain a wannabe-pseudo-philosophical blog with only simple opinions like "Africa" by Toto is the best song ever written (it is), or Joss Whedon is all that (he isn't).

In 2012 I had a friend accuse me of bias, before cutting me out of their life. I realise now how much that accusation affected me - I was always so proud and so careful about the responsibility of being a journalist and weighing up all angles of a story. Maybe it made me cautious, too cautious. Maybe it made me timid.

I'm going to try to cultivate some more opinions. I'm happy for you to suggest some topics, but don't be leading. It's got to be my opinion, and I've got to be confident to put it out there, like some sort of milk-laden breast. And maybe by using those kinds of metaphors, I might grow a little less freaked out by breastfeeding mothers.


  1. "Perhaps indeed some of you come here to examine my opinions", I come here for your keen observations, and sharp insights into our society.

    Well and your hilarious Game of Thrones recaps.

  2. I've always thought you have a lovely set of opinions.

  3. Wait, isn't this the Boobarama Blog? Sorry, wrong link.

    But while I'm here: the older I get, the more I try not to have opinions. At least unless I'm pretty sure of the facts that informed and influenced that opinion. I would be genuinely ashamed and highly embarrassed to detail some of the opinions I held growing up in the 50's. They were awful and ugly and crap and just plain wrong. It would be nice to say that that stopped in the enlightened 60's but it didn't. Again and again I've been guilty of a half-baked opinion which has to be revised or utterly rejected when confronted by facts. Someone I'm too lazy to look up said recently, you're entitled to your opinion, but not to have that opinion respected by anyone else.

    "I was always so proud and so careful about the responsibility of being a journalist and weighing up all angles of a story." That *is* something to be proud of. Caution is good too. It's not how many opinions you have, it's the quality of them.

  4. Look. I really have to say. As a femenist myself. I really don't like Toto.

  5. I tried reading the lyrics to "Rosanna" as if they were about a mother nursing her baby:
    "All I wanna do in the middle of the evening is hold you tight
    Rosanna, Rosanna
    I didn't know you were looking for more than I could ever be"

    But when you read the rest of the song through like that it's a song about losing your child to something like SIDS.

  6. Aw, Nat, your opinions are awesome. Don't feel uptight about them. Let's face it - people come here because they like they way you think (because they think the same way) or they want to flame you as being a kitten-sacrificing, breast-feed-hating, Toto-loving emissary from hell.

    I agree with Greybeard's comment too, though - as a deeply DEEPLY opinionated younger person, I hung my opinions out there like, well, like a Bribie Island mother. With age and...err...wisdom, I've become a lot more careful about when I express my opinions and who to. I like to think of it as not throwing my pearls before swine, but that's just the grumpy old woman coming out in me.

    Opine away.

  7. It must be hard to have watched the oxygen thieving blowhards on George St for so many years and not strongly opine on their muppetness and CAPability.

    "I seem to be deciding that if I'm not qualified to make a comment, or if my opinion has already been repeated often, then there's really no need to express what I think."
    I do often find myself that if I have nothing new to add taking it as an invitation to STFU.

    But I am certainly ready to voice an opinion when & where I think it matters & I believe I can make a difference.

    Breastfeeding in public? I like female boobies but not with hungry bubs attached. I think it is one of those things that will go in & out of style for a few decades before everyone stops caring. I can & do ignore all sorts of things already, something else added to the list is no drama.

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  9. I'm a friend of breasts.......Kingy

  10. Came for the pics, leaving disaeroila-ed ...